(Below is a guest blog post I was asked to do for Steve Spring at stevespring.org who found out about me from the guest blog I did for Daniel Gold at www.degconsulting.net. Don’t you love how this computer/internet thing connects us all? LOVE. IT.)
I know someone that often says the phrase, “Hey, let’s put it in perspective. It’s not like what we do is curing cancer.” Now, I get the sentiment, but I hate when he says it. Because to me, what that’s really saying is, “What I’m doing doesn’t matter that much, it’s not that important.” And I think that leads to losing focus, excuses, quitting, and mediocrity. And also, it’s just not true. What we do in this life, all of it, is as important as curing cancer.
Who am I to say such things? My name is Michelle Nelson-Schmidt and I am a children’s book author and illustrator. And right now you might think I am an ass to say such a thing, but trust me and keep reading. And if this is too long, I just wrote a book (that just came out this week – WOOHOO!) called, “Bob, is a Unicorn” that sums all this up nicely in a children’s picture book. It is about believing in who you are and living your passion in this life. No matter what that passion is – even if it’s to be a unicorn – when you’re clearly not. (That’s Bob up there in the picture with me.)
Is what YOU are passionate about, what you love, what you want to do as important as curing cancer? YES. It IS. We can’t all be the next person to cure a disease that will save lives, no. But what YOU want out of this life, what YOU are passionate about, what you feel you are on this green and blue ball to share with the rest of us? It matters. It matters to the rest of us simply because it matters to YOU.
Your passion will change lives. That novel you want to write may be the words someone else out there desperately needs to hear, to make them not feel alone in this world, or to inspire them to share their words. You may think the career you want won’t be life changing, but it WILL – if it is your passion.
You may want to be a chef. Let’s say you have wanted that since you were young. If you follow that dream with everything you’ve got, you may open up a restaurant one day where you have regulars every week – your restaurant might be the place family memories are created and shared for a lifetime. I could go on and on and on with lots of other examples, but I think you get it.
Seriously, any dream any of us have MATTERS because we are all connected to each other. Do not think your dream or passion is too small or mundane. If you feel it in your bones? It matters. Pay attention to that feeling.
After years of rejection and perseverance, I finally had 2 children’s books published. I couldn’t wait to get into schools to share my books with children. At first, my objective was, ya know, to sell books. But quickly, very quickly, I realized my books were just a vehicle. They allowed me into the schools and in front of children where I realized my true passion – talking to children.
I love meeting kids and giving them the pure and unfiltered message that they can dream big, giant dreams. I don’t talk to them about back up plans, playing it safe, mediocrity. Heck, the rest of the world is happy to give that message to them over and over every day. But when I am there for a brief 45 minutes? I tell them that if they are willing to work hard, have persistence and perseverance? The world and their biggest dreams in life are at their fingertips.
Now, I don’t sugar coat it. I tell them there will be rejection, probably lots of it. There will be naysayers – boatloads of ‘em! (Again, read my new book to see all about those guys.) They may have to work really, really hard – I tell them about working three jobs to get myself through art school. (Remind me to tell you about the time I cut my finger almost in half at 3 am matting an art project for an 8am class that next day after getting home from my third job. Good times.) I tell them without ANY uncertainty, “Look, following your passions and your dreams is NOT going to be easy. But boy, will it be worth it.”
And the old adage about if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life? It’s true. I often say at schools, “I wish there was a word for hard work when you love it.” A teacher wrote to me and said her class talked a lot about that when I left. They came up with a phrase that is giving me goose bumps as I write it, “Heart work.” Yes. That’s it. Heart work.
We ALL have something to share inside us. We do. Are we all willing to admit what that really, truly is? Maybe not. But for the ones of us that are ready? You simply MUST dig deep, find the courage to begin and go after that dream you have no matter what it is. Because when you are doing it, following your passion and shining for all the rest of us to see? You are allowing another human being on this big old ball we live on to see that they can, and are SUPPOSED to shine too.
I can go on and on, but I will end with a story that happened at a school in Maryland. After I was done talking, a fifth grade boy came up to me wanting to talk in private. He said, “Miss Michelle, what if our dream is too big. Like, it seems impossible? What if people might think you’re crazy if you say it out loud?” I paused for a moment, looking into his eyes, so filled with hope for me to tell him it is okay. I said, “Well, if you’re asking me if there is a dream too big to have? No. There’s not.
The world needs the biggest dreamers we’ve got. Please,’ I begged him, “Don’t be afraid to go after it all, that big, huge, giant dream you have – because what if…you get it?” He smiled a giant radiating smile. Then I asked, “So, will you tell me what your dream is?” He replied, “I know it sounds crazy, but I think I was born to be the person that finds the cure for cancer – and after hearing you, I believe in it more than ever.”
What you want in this life matters. And your dreams will matter to others in ways you cannot begin to imagine. We are all connected. Now go find your heart work.